I’m starting to question what it is I even enjoy about this show anymore—because I do enjoy it—but I just hate so many of the characters. At the forefront of my hatred is none other than Rick, but even characters I like have started pissing me off this season. I also, until this season, never noticed how much time has, or rather hasn’t, passed in the show. The first eight episodes of Season 6 take place over the course of maybe three days, if that, and that just doesn’t seem like enough time for any of the characters to work through their emotional issues, especially while dealing with a walker-apocalypse. To top that off, some of those episodes feature numerous pointless subplots that amount to nothing.
What I’m trying to say is that Season 6 has not had The Walking Dead’s strongest storytelling. Spoilers below the jump.
We pick up immediately from where we left off at the start of this season. A walker herd is heading straight toward Alexandria. It turns out that while Rick and the others were enacting their plan to get all the walkers away from Alexandria, their home was attacked by the Wolves. They show up and try to kill everyone, because they believe they have a moral obligation to clean up the planet or something. In the process of their attack, they try to run a truck through the walls, but instead it crashes and its horn goes off, which is what attracted all the walkers in the first place.
This is also about the time we learn that characters spontaneously have the ability to Apparate. Rick’s group starts heading back to Alexandria, which I assumed couldn’t be too far away, since they can hear the truck horn, and because Morgan gets back there in about two minutes. But that actually can’t be the case. Even though Morgan reaches Alexandria is no time, everyone else has to pass through an entire town on their way back, and they spend a whole episode having pointless side characters picked off by walkers. It’s very hard to figure out where places are in relation to other places in this show because of these problems.
Later on, even after the Wolves are defeated and the walkers make it into Alexandria, they just start appearing places they couldn’t possibly be. There’s one section of the wall that’s broken where they pour in from, and yet they manage to surround everyone faster than it seems possible for a bunch of stumbling corpses.
Most of the season thus far takes place between the Wolves’ attack and the walker horde breaking in, and in those episodes, things just seem to happen. The characters attempt to go about their normal lives while Rick proves what an asshole he is. He’s still getting on people’s cases for attempting to bury the dead Wolves, because he doesn’t want killers buried inside the walls. Never mind that just about every character thus far is a killer and that there’s a walker horde outside, so it’s not like there’s anywhere else to bury people. There’s also a scene where Father Gabriel starts hanging up signs for a prayer circle for the surviving residents to attend—which, you know, some people would probably really appreciate—and then Rick shows up and starts wordlessly tearing the signs down. Like, why? Does he not want anyone praying? Does he think that because he doesn’t pray or believe, no one else should? What the hell is wrong with him? He also gets on Tara’s case for saving one of the Alexandrians’ lives at one point and doesn’t understand why she would do that for “these people”. I think my favorite part, though, is when Rick confronts Morgan about his morality, since Morgan doesn’t believe in killing. Morgan, armed with nothing more than a wooden stick, faced off against five of the Wolves. Those five Wolves all escaped. Rick demands to know why Morgan didn’t kill all five of them with his stick. I’m quite certain that even if Morgan could have killed them, he wouldn’t have, but seriously? He had a stick. It was one person with a stick against five people with knives.
Then of course, we still have issues with Pete’s death. I touched on this briefly in my previous review. How Rick handles Pete’s death and burial is completely offensive and traumatizing to Pete’s family. The trauma continues, and unfortunately, it’s not just Rick perpetuating it. Carol, our former domestic abuse victim, goes up to one of Pete’s children and pretty much tells him to get the hell over his dad’s death because Pete was a horrible person. Pete’s other child is also more or less told off by their own mother for being upset as well. Look, no one likes Pete and he probably deserved what he got, but going up to an abusive asshole’s victims and demanding that they get over it is just as bad. It’s been all of two days. It’s not asking too much to let his children mourn. Apocalypse notwithstanding, they’ll have plenty of time to come to terms with what type of person Pete was later.
This treatment does seem to backfire. One of Pete’s children, Sam, conspires to kill Carl in revenge against Rick. While he doesn’t succeed, the attempted murder is something just about all of the characters could have seen coming if they pulled their heads out of their own asses. And the other child is traumatized and incapable of handling everything that happens, to the point that he needs professional help. His mother deals with his psychological issues by telling him to pretend to be someone who’s not afraid. As someone who suffers from anxiety issues, I cannot even begin to express how shitty that advice is. Unfortunately, this leads to him doing something that’s going to get everyone eaten by walkers right before the episode ends.
It’s not as though Alexandria doesn’t have a therapist to help these children deal with their issues. Now that Pete’s dead, Denise, the therapist, becomes the new doctor. Through her, we actually do get some decent representation for both LGBTQ+ people and those with mental disabilities. Denise suffers from crippling anxiety, made all the worse due to her sudden change in profession, and it’s only with the emotional support of Tara, her love interest, that she manages to pull through. The moment she saves a patient’s life is powerful not because that person lived, but because she succeeded in what she set out to do and was able to work through her anxiety. I find it odd that the two boys were never taken to see her, especially considering how bad the younger one is managing his trauma. And of course, because Denise is actually a good character who provides us with some much needed representation, the latest episode leaves off with her about to die. She gets pulled out into the walker horde. I don’t foresee her surviving.
The other big thing that happened this season is Glenn’s supposed death. Early on this season, The Walking Dead attempts to trick us into thinking walkers ate him. But in actuality, Glenn managed to escape death by hiding under a Dumpster. Glenn was then absent for the next two episodes and we didn’t find out what had happened until three weeks later. That was way too long to wait. By the time Glenn’s survival was revealed, I didn’t care anymore. Last season ended with the show attempting to trick us into thinking Glenn was about to die as well, and then this season pulled this shit on us. At this point, his death seems inevitable—Negan, the person who kills Glenn in the comics, is making his debut this season—but now that I’ve wasted my emotions on Glenn’s fake deaths, worrying about his real death is too exhausting.
All in all, this season has had its ups and downs. It has a few good things about it—I love Morgan and how his morality and unwillingness to kill clashes with Rick—but for every good thing, there’s a handful of bad. There are so many characters, the show doesn’t seem to know what to do with them all, Rick is an asshole, the show has some serious pacing problems, and I have actually stopped caring about whether or not Glenn, one of my favorite characters, is going to die. I can only hope the second half of this season will be better.